According to “Saturday Night Live,” Montrealers are weirdos who break into Céline Dion tunes at any provocation and think of Toronto first and foremost as a place where they might spot Drake. Hey, it’s a silly stereotype, but one this Montreal reporter can’t personally refute.
In a satirical sketch about a CBC Montreal morning show that aired this weekend, Bowen Yang and Kate McKinnon play Francophone news anchors hosting a show called “Bonjour-Hi.” (You might recall the seemingly innocuous bilingual greeting became a target of ire by the provincial government last year. Simpler times!)
The Montreal of the sketch — “the best parts of Canada and the worst parts of France” — is a place where everyone smokes, has “Jean” somewhere in their name, and the Québecois and European accents are interchangeable. (Yang’s accent is classic Quebec, but McKinnon’s veers much closer to French-from-France than French-Canadian.)
It also includes a segment by the week’s guest host, Issa Rae, as the Toronto correspondent on “Drake Watch.”
″I thought I saw Drake, but it was just my friend Étienne,” Rae said in a French (?) accent. ”Étienne looks a lot like Drake, plus, I was confused because he was crying in a basketball court.”
The morning show hosts then give their confused American guest a gift basket that turns into some heavy but predictable bagel slander. “Why is everything 25 per cent different here?” he asks.
For some reason, there was no cameo from Justin Bieber, this week’s musical guest. Missed opportunity!
But the sketch has some actual Canadian credentials: Yang lived in Montreal as a child, and has talked before about how his time there introduced him to national treasure Céline Dion. And according to his Twitter account, one of the sketch’s co-writers was Celeste Yim, a Toronto native now based in New York.
Just a couple notes: an anglophone show in Montreal might highlight Canadians like Drake and Rachel MacAdams, but it’s unlikely that a francophone Quebec program would do the same. Ditto with the maple leaves on their coffee cups — those are anglo Canada things.
Also, the Canada that lives in the American imagination is always a land of hockey and free health care, without mention of the deep-seated racism and turmoil going on here. Bagels and cigarettes are easier to joke about than destruction of Indigenous fisheries that politicians including NDP leader Jagmeet Singh are calling terrorism.
Not all local outlets loved the sketch. “This may be the rare case of a ‘Bonjour-Hi’ so egregious that all Quebecers agree it should be banned,” the Montreal Gazette deadpanned.
But of course, in classic Canadian fashion, we’re happy just to be noticed.